Los Angeles Clippers players James Harden, Brandon Boston Jr, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George sit on the bench against the Dallas Mavericks on November 10, 2023.
On October 31, 2023, former MVP James Harden was traded from the Philadelphia 76rs with teammate PJ Tucker in exchange for Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr, and multiple draft picks. The Clippers gained their fourth superstar player, with 5-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard, 9-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, 8-time All-Star Paul George, and now 10-time All-Star James Harden all leading the way in Los Angeles. However, do the Clippers have too many superstars?
Over the last ten years, few teams have compiled rosters with more than two star-level players. The Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors were some of the only teams that shared this resemblance with the Clippers. The Nets previously had an exciting trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. While the team was filled with elite basketball players, they struggled to build chemistry in their rotation. The Nets then became too reliant on inconsistent production from their trio, having only played 16 games together. Nets fans were hopeful of winning a championship in 2022, but their aspirations were soon diminished after being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
However, the Golden State Warriors proved having multiple superstars on a team can lead to championships, as shown by their success in the mid to late 2010s. The Warriors were the league's powerhouse, making finals appearances in five straight years. Their star players, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, were all within their primes, ranging in age from their late 20s to early 30s. However, the core of the Clippers roster are all in their early to mid-30s, likely past their prime. Even if the Clippers succeed in the upcoming playoffs, their success will probably be short-lived as their superstars inch toward retirement. Not only will they begin to slow down on offense, but their quickness and physicality will begin to become a liability on defense.
Nevertheless, the Clippers can still make a playoff run this year, but their starting rotation must gain chemistry. Westbrook recently moved out of the starting five and now comes off the bench, allowing Leonard, George, and Harden to share the offensive responsibilities more effectively. Harden and Westbrook’s new roles focused on passing are important in getting the entire team involved in scoring. Even though Harden and Westbrook's scoring averages have dipped from previous years, their combined 13.1 assists per game will support the team tremendously.
The Clipper's record is 31-15, ranked number three in the Western Conference, as one of the league's best teams. Because of the Clipper’s unselfish play so far this season, their team has a legitimate chance of making a deep run into the playoffs. If their highest contributing players gain experience playing together in the next couple of months, they may find more success than the Nets did in 2022. However, their aging team may prove to be a problem in the next couple of years.